New And Improved! How To Change Your Personal Brand
“Is it possible to change your personal brand?”
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been asked that question over the 15 years I’ve been peddling my wares as a specialist on the subject. Usually, the person goes on to explain their situation and why exactly they want to give others’ perception of them a shove in a different direction.
Sometimes it’s because they started their career at a company as a young adult and even though they’ve been there a long time, they’re seen as less experienced than they are, so want to get the credit they’re due.
Sometimes it’s because they’ve followed a particular career path and want to change tack entirely, so need to show their relevance in a new field and improve their chances of that happening.
Sometimes it’s because something has occurred to create a negative perception of them in others’ minds, so they want to overwrite it with a positive one and build on that.
There are lots of reasons to want to switch the narrative
Whatever the circumstance of wanting to change your personal brand, my answer to the question is always the same:
“Yes you can change your personal brand…but it takes time.”
Some of that time needs to be spent getting a clear idea of what your new brand will look, sound and feel like.
Look to the future
If you’ve already clearly defined your personal brand (and I happen to know a good book that sets out a 5-step process to do just that 😉) you need to go back and review each part.
Any statement which rings true for the future brand you want to project, you leave as is. Any statement that doesn’t quite fit what you aspire to be known as, you give a tweak, making clear what it needs to be going forwards – but only within the boundaries of remaining authentic. As I’ve said before, faking it to make it is a no-no for a personal brand.
Following that (and you can’t skip that bit) some time needs to be spent communicating to others what that new brand is.
Advertise the changes
Just like a tin of soup that’s changed recipe and now has ‘New & Improved!’ on the label, leaving no doubt what’s inside is different and better than before, you need to make it clear you’re different and better too.
The most direct – and therefore the most effective – way to do that is to tell people the aspects that have changed.
In the first scenario above, where someone’s experience is being overlooked, you could say something along the lines of, “I’ve got 10 years with this company under my belt, so I’d love to be seen as an established colleague who people turn to for my expertise.” You’re literally telling people what you want them to know you for.
Or in the second scenario, changing career path, you might say, “It’s amazing how transferable my key skills are – I mean, [insert a relevant example here] can be applied to [insert a new application here] as much as it can [insert a current application here].” You’re literally telling people how you could work in a new environment.
As I said before…
…it will take time.
If your current personal brand is firmly embedded in people’s minds – whether you’ve left them to form their own views or proactively shaped them – you can’t simply flip a switch to a different channel ie your new and improved brand. You’ll need to keep pumping out your messages until they start to hit home.
But if you sit there and do nothing except change your behaviours and hope they notice, you could be waiting a flippin’ long time for that shift in perceptions.
Have you ever wanted or needed to change your personal brand? Were you successful? And if so, how did you go about it? Or did you simply accept how you were seen by others? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment box below. Thanks!
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